NBA Free Agents 2011: 5 Players Who Can Put Your Team in the Playoffs

Kelly Scaletta@@KellyScalettaFeatured ColumnistNovember 28, 2011

NBA Free Agents 2011: 5 Players Who Can Put Your Team in the Playoffs

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    David West headlines the list of players in free agency this year. This year is something of a "tweener" year, as it doesn't have the caliber of players like last year's LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, nor does it have next year's bumper crop of players like Dwight Howard, Chris Paul and Deron Williams. 

    It still has some players who can make a difference, though. It still has some players that can put a team that is a piece away into the playoffs. Here are the top five players that can put your team in the postseason. 

Jason Richardson to Phoenix Suns

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    Some players work well together, and Jason Richardson and Steve Nash are one example. While Richardson was with Phoenix, he scored 19.3 points per game. In Orlando, he only scored 13.9 points per game. Richardson is better with Steve Nash passing him the ball, but then who wouldn't be?

    It might seem like a crazy idea to bring Richardson back, but Richardson made the Suns a better team. He was on the team that went to the Western Conference finals.

    He can sink the long ball. He can get to the rim. He creates space, and that might be enough in Phoenix where they weren't actually that far away from the postseason last year. 

Tracy McGrady to Clippers

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    This might be one of those things that gets me clobbered by readers. It comes with the territory, though.

    I actually think the Clippers are the most likely team to do what Oklahoma City did two years ago and what Memphis did last year, and that is break out of the losing mold and get to the postseason. 

    One player who could really help them do that is Tracy McGrady. He has shown he can run an offense at the point, having his best pure point guard rating in four years. His assists per 36 minutes were the highest in four years.

    He can still put the ball on the floor and score, as only 42 percent of his points last season were assisted. 

    He has developed quite a bit as a defensive player. He would bring a veteran presence to the team. He wouldn't have to be the No. 1 guy. 

    He brings everything they need, and he's a big improvement over Ryan Gomes. McGrady could be the player to put the Clippers in the postseason. 

Tayshaun Prince to Milwaukee Bucks

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    Tayshaun Prince has gotten remarkably little buzz during the offseason. It's almost like no one cares what happens to a player with a 7'2" wingspan, proven defensive and undervalued offensive skills, and a ring. In a word, "Duh!"

    Prince is an outstanding player and he's only 31. It's not like he's ready to start collecting Social Security. His ability to move and put himself in position without the ball is really good, and he shoots well from everywhere on the court. 

    He makes 40 percent of his long twos and has an eFG percentage of 52.1 from the three. 

    Luc Mbah a Moute does not have that same ability and he doesn't have the ability to put the ball on the floor. Prince isn't the most explosive guy to the basket, but he does have a good handle. Last year only 52 percent of his field goals were assisted. 

    The last Eastern Conference slot is not going to require 50 wins. Just getting to 41 should be enough, and Prince would give the Bucks enough help to do that. 

David West to Wizards

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    This one is a long shot, but there are some things to consider here. First, they were 20-21 at home last year, so that suggests a team that is on the precipice of figuring things out.

    Second, they have their young point guard, John Wall, ready for a second season. Third, if they buy out Rashard Lewis' contract, they are required to spend $26 million!

    The Wizards could be a playoff contender if they sign David West. He and JaVale McGee would complement one another in the sense that they offset one another's weaknesses with their own strengths. 

    McGee brings size, athleticism and defense. West brings intelligence, scoring and skill. A West/McGee frontcourt would really be a nice complement to the backcourt of Wall and Nick Young. 

Nene Hilario to Rockets

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    You know what they're saying in Houston? If Hilario joins us, that would be hilarious! 

    Rim shot. 

    I absolutely love the idea of Nene on the Rockets, and I'm not even a Houston fan. Nene is a good center on both ends of the court. He led the NBA in field goal percentage last year. Overall, he scored 1.13 points per play on offense, which is extremely high. 

    He's not a great post defender, giving .88 points per play. He is a good help defender, though. Between him and Luis Scola, they would have a nice inside tandem whose styles of play would mesh well together.

    Perhaps the best thing would be that having two players who can score down low, they would have a real ability to spread the floor and allow Kevin Martin to have his best year yet.  

    Houston was probably the best team not to make the postseason last year, and if they add Nene, they won't miss again this year.